Great article.

I was always told that I was half-Native and half-European, and that the European side was mostly German. So that’s what I always told people. I recently found out that the European side is actually mostly Scots-Irish. But I spent so many decades thinking of myself as “half-German,” and telling people that I’m “half-German,” that, even though I now know the truth, “half-German” still plonks out of my mouth when people ask about my ancestry. It’s just so automatic! And, internally, I still identify with being half-German — like when I find out about an actor or athlete who’s half-Native and half-German, my first, automatic response is, “Yay, like me!”

So I can understand how people could get caught up in identifying with some ancestry and claiming it all their lives, based on what they were told when they were young, even if they later find out that what they were told was not quite true.

And I think the claim of being half-Native and half-Scots-Irish is not so out-there as it might seem at first, at least not based on empirical experience. I’ve met a lot of people who are half-Native and half-white, and very often the white half is either German, Irish or Scots-Irish. I don’t know what that means, but it’s a thing that I’ve noticed and wondered about.

Also, last names are not always a good indicator of anything. For instance, my grandpa’s name was too hard to pronounce in English so he just picked a new one. Things like that happened when people were forced to assimilate.

I’m sure you’re right in doubting all these people’s claims. But your post caught my attention because you could kinda’ be describing me (half-Native and half(ish)-Scots-Irish with a totally non-Native last name), and I wanted to provide a counterpoint. And I have always had a profound and inexplicable love for the sound of bagpipes and the look of Tartan and I personally wouldn’t want to get too much flak for exploring that side of my heritage.

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